THE accessibility of the most sophisticated of new cars is alien to the majority of motorists ... [more]
Friday, 19 April 2019
SUCCESS breeds success, as the old adage goes, and the Swedish carmaker Volvo’s conscious model “renewal” in recent years has paid dividends.
Figures for 2017 show that Volvo UK recorded its second-highest annual sales in 25 years, in a declining new car market.
But it is what comes next that counts, and to that end Volvo announced in 2017 that electrification would be at the heart of its future business, with every new car launched from this year — 2019 — being electrified, regardless of its powertrain fuel type.
Well, this week’s drive has been the flagship Volvo XC90. This was the twin-engine version — a 303hp two-litre petrol engine working in unison with an 87hp electric motor.
Now the fine engineering on this car is quite fantastic but a mere taste, I think, of things to come.
The extraordinary aspect of the XC90 is that it is only the second-generation version of this car.
The first generation was introduced at the 2002 North American International Auto Show.
The 2019 second-generation XC90, while retaining those vital characteristics that made the first generation so popular, is a very different animal.
For a start, and I have said this many times, new Volvos across the range demonstrate an impressive lightness of being while maintaining new standards of safety, comfort and levels of technology. This has all been part of the model renewal programme.
I think it comes down to one word: quality. This takes money of course, but solid financial backing does not always buy success.
So, sure, the car I have been driving this week will cost you. As it happens, the test car model, including options, came in at £79,010. The XC90 model range is available (on the road) from £50,435 for the T5 Momentum.
This is a lot of money to invest in a car, but then you get a massive amount of car for your cash. And because, as I have said before, Volvo considers the well-being of everyone in the car — not just the driver, like some carmakers — you also invest in peace of mind.
So what do you get with the XC90 T8 Twin Engine AWD Inscription Pro model I have been at the wheel of this week?
The T8 Twin Engine is a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid. The powertrain choice in this car includes diesel and petrol units.
The T8 Twin Engine benchmark efficiency is rated from 59g/km and 108.6mpg.
But this car is no slouch when it comes to performance, with a top speed of 140mph, acceleration and 0-60mph in 5.5 seconds.
You can drive it silently and silkily around town or city or cruise relentlessly at top motorway cruising speeds.
There are several Twin Engine-specific drive modes: Pure is designed to reduce fuel consumption and emissions by using electric power as much as possible.
The drive mode Hybrid uses the electric motor (which powers the rear wheels) either individually or together to achieve an optimum balance between performance and efficiency.
The Power mode combines the forces of both petrol engine and electric motor at the same time to maximise performance.
And AWD driving mode uses both the electric motor and the petrol engine to improve traction at low speeds on slippery surfaces.
It can also be suitable for towing, driving on ice or when there is a temporary need for all-wheel drive.
The XC90 Twin Engine test car was supplied with two charging cables — one for fast charging and one for standard-rate charging using a traditional three-pin plug.
You can recharge the XC90’s high-voltage battery via a three-pin plug (without ever using an extension lead or other adaptor) or fast charge the car at a variety of nationwide charging networks.
Charging via the fast-charge (16 amp) cable will completely recharge the car’s high-voltage battery in as little as 2.5 hours.
Fully charging via the standard-rate three-pin plug cable can take between 3.5 hours (at 10 amps) and six hours (at six amps). Every Volvo Twin Engine is supplied with a standard-rate cable. The fast-charge cable is available as an optional extra.
This huge seven-seater luxury SUV (sport utility vehicle) is “controlled” by the driver through the “heart” of the car, Volvo’s Sensus media system — a nine-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard giving access to multiple vehicle functions and connectivity.
This new 2019 Volvo XC90 — especially the Twin Engine test car — may seem a bit of a daunting prospect for any owner, in as much as it is packed to the brim with safety and connectivity technology.
But it is also a pure joy to drive. The XC90 is easy to manoeuvre for a big car, feels incredibly safe to be in, is consummately comfortable and, if you have the wherewithal, in my opinion well worth the investment.
Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine AWD Inscription Pro
Model as tested, including options: £79,010
Engine: T8 (hybrid) — 303hp + 87hp
Combined fuel economy: 100.9mpg
Exterior colour: Denim Blue
CO2 emissions: 63g/km
Upholstery: Nappa soft leather perforated and ventilated — Blond/Charcoal
Review by Nigel Wigmore, Standard motoring correspondent
IT is all very well admiring cars laden with high-tech equipment until you experience a car that is ... [more]
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